January 22, 2020

Dear friends,
Here is something to cheer you up when winter gives you an icy slap: Chicken in a sunny marinade with grilled pineapple, peppers and oranges. Can you feel the tropical breezes already?

Probably not. But I can here in Florida, so I thought I’d export a bit of my good fortune to my buddies up North. I have oranges. I have pineapple. I have bell peppers. I have mojo marinade. You do, too, no matter where you live, so let’s get cooking.

To make this easy dish, I skinned some chicken thighs and soaked them for an hour in mojo marinade, a luscious garlic/sour orange substance sold in bottles in Latin stores and even supermarkets now. Ideally, if the weather were nicer or if you’re hardy, you could then grill the chicken et al. outdoors. Or if you have an indoor electric grill, now’s the time to use it.

My fallback position is to pan-sear the chicken, fruit and peppers and finish them at high heat in the oven. This takes practically no time. Then jumble everything together in a bowl with more mojo and cilantro if you want. Heap it onto a platter and let the sun shine.

TROPICAL MOJO CHICKEN AND PINEAPPLE

4 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1 1/2 cups bottled mojo marinade
1 pineapple
1 orange
1 large red or yellow bell pepper
Vegetable oil
Sea salt
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)

Place chicken and half of the marinade in a zipper-lock plastic bag. Seal and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, peel pineapple, cut lengthwise into fourths and cut away core. Cut each fourth in half lengthwise. This is a lot of pineapple for two people so you may want to use just half. Tony and I love pineapple and ate all of it.

Wash orange and cut in quarters lengthwise. Wash and trim pepper and cut into fat strips. Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) or ridged skillet grill over high heat. Coat lightly with oil. Sear fruit and pepper strips until softened and charred on the edges. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.

After an hour, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain chicken and pat dry. Discard marinade. In same oiled skillet or grill pan, sear chicken over high heat until light brown on both sides. Place pan with chicken on lowest oven rack. Place baking sheet with fruit and peppers on a higher oven rack. Roast for about 20 to 30 minutes or until juices of the chicken run clear. The timing will vary with the meatiness of the chicken thighs.

Transfer chicken, fruit and pepper strips to a bowl. Add remaining mojo marinade and toss to coat. Heap everything on a platter, sprinkle with salt (if necessary after tasting) and decorate with chopped cilantro if desired. Serves 2.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Grilled mojo chicken with pineapple, oranges and peppers; a bloody Mary bar for our Canadian snowbird friends with shrimp, celery and olives (thanks for the idea, Craig and Blase); stir-fried spaghetti squash with venison spaghetti sauce.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
Chicken tacos with grilled onions and cilantro from Taqueria Solaviano food truck in Hobe Sound; a bunless hamburger with grilled mushrooms, onions and peppers, a fruit cup and Diet Coke at Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound; cafe con leche and a Cuban sandwich at Wow Cuban Cafe in Hobe Sound; coffee and a McMuffin from McDonald’s (breakfast on the beach); kung bao chicken, pork with garlic sauce, rice and a fortune cookie, awful takeout from Man Li in Hobe sound.

THE MAILBAG
Note:I usually don’t pass along flattering emails because I don’t want to look like a self-serving jerk, but today I make an exception. I so enjoyed hearing from far-flung readers, at my request, that I’m sharing an unedited batch of emails in hopes you will enjoy them, too.

From Alice B., Tokyo, Japan:
I grew up in Akron but moved away after graduating from Akron U. My Mom got me hooked on your newsletter. I’ve spent most of my after-Akron life in Texas but am now in Tokyo for a couple of years.

From Sue M., Hilton Head, S.C.:
Sue M. here in Hilton Head. Stop by on your way South. We sure still get Belgrade’s cravings. Lard must be in our blood. I very much enjoy your blog. We have no regular food page here.

From Jim S., Estero, Fla.:
I’m an Akron snowbird now in Estero, Florida.

From Karen Haram, San Antonio, Texas:
I subscribe and look forward to your newsletter. I plan to try the noodle stir-fry recipe but with whole-wheat pasta and ground turkey (super WW-friendly on the purple plan I am on). We shall see!

Note from Jane: Karen is the retired food editor extraordinaire of the San Antonio Express-News. I’ve shared a few of her terrific recipes over the years. I am flattered she follows my newsletter. Remember the See Chuck Cook series? Karen is the one who surged me to teach Chuck how to cook Thanksgiving dinner, resulting in another hilarious Klosterman column.

From Karen C., Greenville, S.C.:
We were born and bred Akronites until Michelin bought BFGoodrich and moved us to corporate headquarters here in Greenville 24 years ago. I look forward to your emails and a “taste” of home!

From Barbara N., Media, Pa.:
A friend, then living in Akron, put me onto your e-newsletter nearly a decade ago. I have subscribed to and greatly enjoyed it ever since. Thanks for all the great recipes as well as the various culinary tips. Happy New Year from a fellow carb-watcher in the Philadelphia area!

From Lana B., Monterey, Calif.:
Thanks for a fine and funny newsletter! I grew up in Akron.

From Darren B., Aurora, Ill.:
Just responding to your request for where people read your newsletter. I do return often as my mom still lives in Akron. It was a difficult day when West Point Market closed and my sauerkraut ball connection vanished. I was shopping at Acme in Montrose and noticed they had a hefty supply — figured they were worth a try since we like to serve them on Christmas Eve. They did not disappoint! There was another shopper at the same display that advised that Papa Joe’s in the valley also is a great alternative. I will be trying those on my next trip. Keep up the great work and keeping me involved in my hometown.

From Nancy W., Tempe, Ariz.:
I signed up to get your wonderful recipes when a high school friend recommended it. Linda and I are part of a group of gals who were in a high school club. We kept in touch as our lives went through phases. At our 40th high school reunion we exchanged emails. That started a yearly reunion at first in Lakeside, Ohio, but later changed to Florida in October each year. Linda suggested your column and I forward it to them! We range in location from California, Washington State, Georgia and Florida to, of course, Ohio.

From Rhonda R., Bluffton, S.C.:
I live in Bluffton, S.C., and enjoy reading your weekly emails. I used to live in Richfield, Ohio and I am friends with a friend of yours, Linda A. of Homps, France. I especially enjoy reading about your adventures when you are visiting her in France. I am hoping to get there to visit her sometime soon. Would love to meet you in person some day. Any friend of Linda is a friend of mine! Happy New Year.

From Cindy W., St. Augustine, Fla.:
Greetings from St. Augustine! You asked, I reply. Happy New Year!

From Scott H., Arkansas:
My wife and I have been reading your column for more than a decade, I think. I lived in Akron almost my entire life. But when we moved to Arkansas to be with our daughters and watch our six grandchildren grow up, we continued reading. That move was six years ago, and we are still faithful readers. Thank you!

From Tracy C., Raleigh, N.C.:
Thanks so much for your newsletter! I look forward to it every week.

From Leslie K., Christianburg, Va.:
I used to live in Akron where I was a reader of your column in the Beacon Journal but now we live in Christiansburg, Va. I often forward your column to a friend near Nashville, a friend in Milwaukee, and my daughters in Los Angeles and Columbia, S.C. — so it gets around!! Thanks for your many years of sharing recipes .

From Melinda B., Leesburg, Fla.:
I read your articles in the Beacon Journal when I visited my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Akron. We lived in Indianapolis at the time but have since movedto Leesburg, Fla. I always look forward to your weekly email.

From Barbara S., Hilton Head, S.C.:
I started following you when you were the food editor at the Beacon Journal and we were living in Akron. We retired to Hilton Head Island, S.C., in 2005. I have enjoyed your blog and look forward to your weekly emails!

From Joette W., Akron:
Twenty years? It doesn’t seem possible. I’ve been reading your work since the days of Second Helpings and I look forward to reading See Jane Cook each week. After reading the latest newsletter this morning, I knew I, too, wanted to thank you for sharing so many delicious recipes, tidbits, gut checks, and slices of your life with all of us. I learn something new every week from you and your other readers.

Dear friends:
Thank you to everyone who wrote. I hope I didn’t leave anyone out. I enjoyed reading your notes, and was surprised to learn that my newsletter appeals not just to food lovers but to those nostalgic for Akron. So I feel justified passing on a terrific link to historic Akron photos from Joy in British Columbia, Canada. These photos are a treasure. Be sure to click on all three pages. I especially liked the photo of the Beacon Journal newsroom the day Pearl Harbor was bombed: http://mredinjection.blogspot.com/.

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